Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Hostage

MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic violence, language and some drug use

Reviewed by: Evan D. Baltz
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
March 11, 2005 (nationwide)
Featuring: Bruce Willis, Jimmy Bennett, Jimmy Pinchak, Jonathan Tucker, Ben Foster, Robert Knepper
Director: Florent Emilio Siri
Producer: Mark Gordon, Arnold Rifkin, Bob Yari, Bruce Willis, Richard D Zanuck
Distributor: Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
Copyright, Miramax Films
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Copyright, Miramax Films

Would you sacrifice another family to save your own?

After 10 years in S.W.A.T., Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis—The Whole Ten Yards) has become one of Los Angeles’ best hostage negotiators. His style of building trust with kidnappers and keeping situations under control is legendary. However, when a hostage situation goes bad, Talley decides to work in a more low-key environment as a local police chief in Ventura County.

As with most hostage scenario movies, the tension level is good throughout. Although not completely unpredictable, there are plot turns that keep the excitement building. I don’t want to give away too many plot points, but Jeff Talley is forced to deal with multiple interacting hostage situations which come to a head at an exclusive mansion in the canyon hills area.

At first he considers giving up command of the situation to the county, but is forced to reassume command as the situation escalates. Will he negotiate the situation to a positive resolution or will it result in blood shed. It is a Bruce Willis movie after all, so you can probably guess that outcome.

Willis is his usual self—tough, hard-nosed, bald and sweaty. This role doesn’t extend him much beyond what we are familiar with in his other action pictures, but he is nonetheless still a good action star. Kevin Pollak (also from The Whole Ten Yards) plays the father of a kidnapped family. He is convincing and well cast. The three small time criminals who blunder their way into the situation are solid characters, although not particularly deep. Willis’ daughter by Demi Moore, Rumer Willis, plays Jeff Talley’s daughter.

In keeping with most Willis action films, “Hostage” lets loose with many, many four-letter words. I stop keeping count after 50, but my guess is that there were somewhere just south of 100 uses of such words, including about a dozen uses of the Lord’s name in vain. There is also graphic violence, but no nudity or sex.

All in all, the movie is entertaining if you enjoy the action/thriller genre, but nothing above the ordinary. Those with sensitivity to harsh language best stay away.

One small interesting note of theology occurs in an early scene. A kidnapper prays for forgiveness prior to killing himself and others. He tells Jeff that God has already decided who will live and die. Does God forgive us in advance of sin? Can we be truly repentant prior to committing a sin, i.e. can we be forgiven for a sin we are about to commit? True repentance requires the effort and heart to no longer commit sin, to flee from sin. And even though, as Psalm 139 declares, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” it is does not mean we are still not accountable for our actions. God is Sovereign, and man is accountable. Both are true.

Thankfully we can be forgiven, if we approach God with a truly repentant heart, “He is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But remember, the Apostle Paul warns us to never have the attitude of sinning more so that grace may abound more. “Go and sin no more,” were Christ’s words.

Viewer Comments
Neutral—This is another “wait for the DVD” movie in my opinion. I’m not sure why Hollyweird thinks stuff like this will “sell” (again) of course, I bought a ticket, but if you must see this film wait for the DVD release.
My Ratings: Offensive/2
—Bob C, age 41
Positive—Tense. Engrossing. Gripping from start to finish. All words to describe a conversation with Johnny Betts. But they also adequately describe Bruce Willis’ latest movie Hostage. The movie could also be referred to as Redemption because that’s definitely what you’ll see this as if you have been disappointed with Bruce’s recent efforts.

However, I would recommend that you not go into the movie expecting a “Die Hard” clone. Hostage sacrifices heavy action and humor for a darker, more character-driven tale, and it works. THIS is how a thriller should be! Things start off on an intense note as we see a grizzled-looking Bruce Willis attempting to negotiate with a psycho who has locked himself and his family in their house. He’s got a gun, and he’s clearly not right in the head. I will not reveal what happens, but flash forward a year later and having burnt himself out in the negotiation business, Willis is now a police chief in a smaller town. You think he’ll be called on to use his negotiation skills again? If you say “no” then please let me slap you upon the cheek.

The thrills only intensify from there once the trailer park trio takes Kevin Pollack’s family hostage. I really like the fact that we have two sets of bad guys here. There are the white collar criminals who remain faceless, yet ruthless in their desire to get what they want. Then there are the blue collar boys who make a stupid mistake and get in way over their heads.

I also appreciate the fact that the blue collar bad boys aren’t one-dimensional. Jonathan Tucker plays the older brother (Dennis Kelly), and he does a great job of making his character somewhat sympathetic. He’s a small-time wannabe tough guy who gets himself in a very bad situation that only escalates as the movie progresses. As the situation worsens, we see that Dennis regrets what he’s done. He obviously wants to be anywhere else at the moment. He’s scared, but he continues to try to talk tough. He’s reaping the consequences of falling in with the likes of Mars.

Mars, portrayed by the show-stealing Ben Foster, is a long-haired, black clothes-wearing troublemaker. His back story is completely a mystery at the beginning, but we deliberately begin to see that he may not be quite as sympathetic as the others. Is he pure evil? Cold-blooded? Misunderstood? Regretful? Revealing anything would be a disservice to your viewing enjoyment, so I’m not saying anymore except that the character is very well-developed.

I know it’s only March, but other than “Million Dollar Baby,” “Hostage” is the best movie I’ve seen this year. If you want a fun, suspenseful night at the movies then ignore the critics whining and moaning about clichés and improbabilities and go check out “Hostage.” …a movie for movie fans, not movie elitists.

THE GIST Are you in the mood for a dark, intense, edge-of-your seat thriller? Then Hostage will most certainly entertain. If you’re the type of moviegoer who only knows how to complain about clichés and coincidences then I’m sure you’ll do the same here. I recommend loosening up and enjoying life a little.
My Ratings: Offensive/4½
—Jack Smith, age 22
Positive—This movie rocks!!!…, I just saw this movie Loved it! It was a psychological thriller, scarier than I expected. Ben Foster, who plays Mars, is amazing, the best! Very sinister and portrays Mars with great capability. The movie was darker than I expected, but I liked it better this way, it was more believable and scarier… a real thrill ride!! There is not one actor that could’ve done a better job. Bruce Willis is his great usual self, he is heroic and tough. Jimmy Bennet who plays Tommy is so unbelievably cute, as well. He also is great in the movie. The movie has a film noir feeling to it, which is really cool. The score appeals to the film noir aspect as well. I also agree with the other voters in that the movie is very visual, not sugarcoated or anything like that. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie with the suspenseful twists that I didn’t expect. All in all, I loved it, and will be first in line to rent it on DVD. I have already seen it four time, I would recommend this movie for those who like thrillers, suspense, action, and those who are just looking to see a really good movie…
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Sam Jones, age 18
PositiveBruce Willis gets back to his heroic roots as a tough guy cop in French director Florent Emilio Siri’s new crime movie “Hostage” (*****), a realistic, often gripping police procedural thriller with R-rated amounts of blood, gore, and more. The more here is plot. Lots of plot. You can’t run to the restroom or the snack bar in “Hostage” without missing crucial information. Again, scenarist Doug Richardson’s smartly done screenplay contains several twists and turns as well as surprises and revelations that will keep you poised on the edge of your seat.

At worst, “Hostage” probably has more plot than one movie needs, but it certainly helps to generate some white-knuckled tension and nail-biting suspense. Unlike Willis’ hip, cool, wise-cracking “Die Hard” movies, which this melodramatic exercise in nihilism borrows from only marginally, “Hostage” is comparatively downbeat, cynical, and matter-of-fact. The villains lack the flamboyance of the “Die Hard” bad guys. What these villains lack in style, they compensate for with psychotic villainy. People drop like flies in “Hostage,” and one of them is a child.

Imagine what the original “Die Hard” would look like if Hollywood remade it as an urban spin on Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” and you’ll be prepared for this solidly-made, but largely down-to-earth, cat and mouse shoot’em up.

“Hostage” opens in Los Angeles as seasoned L.A.P.D. hostage negotiator Jeff Tally (Bruce Willis of “Pulp Fiction”) tries to talk a murderous gunman out of killing an innocent woman and her son. Surprise number one. Things go horribly wrong, and the gunman shoots the mother and the little boy dies in Tally’s arms as the suicidal father lies dead in a pool of blood. Traumatized by this experience, Tally leaves the L.A.P.D. and takes a job as police chief of a slumbering small town north of Los Angeles. Although Tally is content with his new post, but his wife Jane Tally (Serena Scott Thomas of “The World Is Not Enough”) and daughter Amanda (Rumer Willis-that’s right, Bruce’s real life daughter) aren’t. Jane visits him on weekends, but refuses to live with him, and his daughter fears that her parents may divorce as a result of their separation. Nevertheless, Jeff doesn’t have to face the high pressure crime problems of L.A., until he fails to pull over three unsavory teenagers in a battered pick-up truck who litter on his watch.

Jeff drives off to the office, while the trio of teens, Dennis (Sean Penn look-a-like Jonathan Tucker of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), Mars Krupcheck (Ben Foster of “Get Over It”), and Dennis’ younger brother Kevin (Marshall Allman of “Shallow Ground”) spot a Cadillac Escalade driven by wealthy accountant Walter Smith (Kevin Pollack of “Deterrence”), with his children, teen-aged Jennifer (Michelle Horn of “Stuart Saves His Family”) and her younger brother Tommy (Jimmy Bennett of “Daddy Day Care”).

From that point on, Murphy’s Law rules, everything that can go wrong, goes wrong in spades for not only Jeff, who is called to the scene, but also the villains and their victims. The villainous, darkly-clad teen trio of scumbags tail Walter and his family to their fortress-like mansion equipped with a state-of-the-art home security system and try to steal the Cadillac…

Director Florent Siri, who helmed the sci-fi thriller “The Nest,” knows what is essential for any hardboiled action thriller. Writer Doug Richardson and he paint the Bruce Willis hero into a corner, and they don’t let him off the hook until fadeout about two hours later. Things get so tough for the Willis hero that he has to break the law himself! Meanwhile, the plot takes on greater dimensions by leaps and bounds as every action triggers another action, sometimes bigger than the previous action. “Hostage” gives its heroes a hard time and doesn’t cut much slack for the villains. No sooner have the three teens gotten themselves cornered in Smith’s impregnable home than they begin to grow suspicious about each other.

Meanwhile, power struggles develop outside the house between Jeff and the County cops that he requested for back-up. Just when you think that the heat cannot be turned up any higher, Siri and Richardson twist the knob off the afterburners!

The entire cast is uniformly good, especially Jonathan Tucker and Ben Foster as the homicidal teens. Willis delivers a low-key but powerful performance as the man caught in the middle. “Hostage” suffers from two flaws: the movie sacrifices realism when the plot becomes too incredible with its own coincidences, and a last minute shoot out seems completely out-of-place with another revelation about the villains. Leave the wife and kids and/or girlfriend at home for this actioneer. “Hostage” qualifies strictly as a movie for guys who won’t flinch at the sight of blood and gore.
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Ed Smith, age 18
Positive—This movie rocks! …Loved it! It was a psychological thriller, scarier than I expected. Ben Foster, who plays Mars, is amazing, the best! Very sinister and portrays Mars with great capability. The movie was darker than I expected, but I liked it better this way, it was more believable and scarier… a real thrill ride!!

There is not one actor that could’ve done a better job. Bruce Willis is his great usual self; he is heroic and tough. Jimmy Bennet who plays Tommy is so unbelievably cute, as well. He also is great in the movie. The movie has a film noir feeling to it, which is really cool.

The score appeals to the film noir aspect as well. I also agree with the other voters in that the movie is very visual, not sugarcoated or anything like that. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the entire movie with the suspenseful twists that I didn’t expect. All in all, I loved it, and will be first in line to pay to see it again on the big screen opening day. I would recommend this movie for those who like thrillers, suspense, action, and those who are just looking to see a really good movie. …People should definitely see this movie, so go see it! don’t take little kids!!
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Sandy White, age 18
Positive—Great movie!! I have already seen it four times! …All in all it was a great, fun, intense movie…
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Bob Grand, age 25
Negative—If you love God and want to spread his message, I do not see how you could possibly recommend this movie. If, however, you want to be disturbed, disgusted and to feel horrible after seeing a movie, then go see it. This movie does nothing but spread the gospel of Hollywood which is to try harder and harder to SHOCK the viewer. They seem to feel that if then can shock you with disgusting behavior, language and messages, then you will enjoy the movie. Are people really this dead spiritually that they need this much of a shock to get their attention? This movie does everything we tell our kids not to do. Take the Lord’s name in vain, curse constantly and behave like they want to go to hell. Stay away from this movie. It is a total waste of money and is morally depraved…
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/1
—Allen Robertson, age 47
Neutral—For my husband and I this movie was entertaining, but nothing to keep discussing or thinking about. It’s your typical Bruce Willis movie where he’s caught in an impossible situation, but through Hollywood magic he saves the day for himself and everyone else. It’s the type of movie we (humans) like to see because we get to see instant justice. It’s pretty violent and the language is typical, although it keeps in with the reality of how troubled teenagers would talk. The bad language from Bruce Willis’s character could have been omitted, but that’s Hollywood.
My Ratings: Offensive/5
—Maria Gottuso, age 36
Negative—This Movie was definitely one of Willis’ better movies, however it was not near as great as anyone said it was. If you just have to see this movie just to say that you saw it, then I would definitely recommend waiting to see it once it comes out on dvd. I sure wish that I would have not wasted my money going to see this movie! I will admit though it is probably better than most movies you can go see today. I was just disappointed with its intensity levels. Thriller?
My Ratings: Offensive/2½
—Andrew Nellson, age 22
Neutral—It was well done. Gripping plot, scary, dark, compelling. There was however some light sexual tension that was disturbing. It’s a woman’s worst nightmare to be in a hostage situation and to have a guy making advances. Also in this movie the f-word frequented almost every single sentence—pretty sad that people use swear words to describe what they’re feeling. But still I enjoyed the film and the characters and the twists and turns.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Betina Payne, age 19

Comments from young people
Neutral—I loved this movie and have seen it twice, but I would recommend not watching it unless you have a DVD player that deletes the bad language. There were sections that lasted several minutes with nonstop swearing. Overall, I loved this movie since there was no sex or nudity and fed my love for thrillers. My 11 year old sister watched it and enjoyed it as well, but I have to say there is no way that either one of us would have watched it if we didn’t have TVguardian.
My Ratings: Offensive/4½
—Brittany, age 17
Neutral—All I can really say about this film is WOW! I loved it! There was a lot of language but no sex or nudity. The story line was believable and was intense. I don’t condone bad language, but my family has TVguardian which deletes the inappropriate language. I think everyone should get this feature because now we can watch intense thrillers without having to hear the swearing. I definitely think this is one of Bruce’s best films and is action packed. I gave “Hostage” a neutral rating due to the language.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Bert Ernie, age 17
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie. I like the whole action/thriller thing, but this movie gave the whole action/thriller thing a bit of a horror edge, in my opinion. The movie was very entertaining. The soon to be main character out of the murderers/thieves freaks out the people watching, it gave it a scariness. Which is my favorite type of movie. The movie is definitely not slow, and definitely not cuss-less. There are a lot of F-words, in one scene in like 5, 10 minutes G-D___ is used 3, 4 or 5 times, then it is not used anymore, other language is in it too. I have to say how concerned I was, even though the movie rating was not for sexuality, I was made nervous that Mars was going to try to rape the daughter, the way he was actting towards her. Thankfuly, there wasn’t any. It shows teenage girls not to dress sexually, it might come back and bite them… The little kid is my hero, he rocks. I suggest this movie to obviously those who would enjoy it and those who are mature enough. I am 14; I’m pretty mature.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Michelle, age 14
Negative—I was very disappointed with this movie. It is not near as good as everyone said it was. It was definitely one of Bruce Willis’ better movies, however I would encourage you to see it when it comes out on dvd if you really have to see it. I wish that I would not have wasted my money going to see Hostage.
My Ratings: Offensive/2½
—Jason Anderson, age 17
Negative—My dad and I saw this movie expecting to see a “Die Hard” type of film, and this was the opposite. There is no reedeming value in this movie. My dad and I are big Bruce Willis fans, and this was not his greatest movie. In some parts it was interesting, but, overall, it was boring and pretty offensive. If you’re expecting a good Bruce Willis flik, this one is not recommended.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Michael Hertel, age 13
Movie Critics
…Hostage’s virtues come with some serious flaws… keeps the overcomplicated “Hostage” from slipping the bonds of genre and being something special…
—Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
…The movie, with its climax of boggling, bloody too-muchness, is adapted from Robert Crais’ page-turner by Doug Richardson (“Die Hard 2”) with a businesslike sense of Willis’ strengths…
—Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
…Much of the drama is wrung so hard the film borders on the ridiculous…
—Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…plausibility keeps getting slaughtered… the payoff collapses… Explosions, gunfights and suspense may keep you awake for a while, but not if the movie assaults logic and holds common sense hostage.
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune